Helping Our Shelterless Neighbors

From Board President, Peter Arian

The UUCM Executive Committee (in consultation with Rev Scott and the Reopening task force) has agreed to be part of an emergency plan to help folks in Montclair experiencing homelessness. As some of you may be aware, pre-pandemic this population had a few locations in town available to escape the elements during the day. Due to Covid restrictions, none of these options currently exist. In the past few days approximately 25% of Montclair’s homeless population has been hospitalized with illness related to exposure to the cold.

From Feb 1 thru March 31 the Peierls Room will be utilized as an emergency warming center during the week from 3-7 PM and on weekends from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM. This room will be staffed and supervised by MESH employees under a grant secured and managed by Toni’s Kitchen. The current plan is to limit access to the rest of the building and all entry and exit to UUCM will be through door D (the fire exit at the end of the 2nd floor hallway).

How does this impact life at 67 Church Street? All staff have been instructed that if they require to be physically present at UUCM, to please avoid doing so during the hours above and to definitely avoid being present in the upstairs annex space. We have just purchased a HEPA room air filter for the Peierls room and MESH staff will be responsible for deep cleaning the room after guests leave. Covid19 safety protocols will be in place in the Peierls room at all times.

Where can these people stay warm the rest of the time? Salvation Army will open from 8-1 M-F and will provide a light meal and shower facilities. MESH will continue to operate overnight respite at Union Baptist Church (12 Midland) when temperatures are below 32 degrees from 8:00 PM to 7:00 AM.

Why UUCM? We are literally in between the 2 other respite locations. We have been a safe and welcoming congregation for many years and these folks in need feel comfortable in our space. This is literally a matter of life or death: This action fits squarely into our mission to “build a more just and loving world.”

If you have have any questions or concerns please reach out to me.

In Gratitude,

Peter Arian